Every dancer remembers her first BIG performance! You’ve put in weeks and weeks and weeks (okay…maybe just a few weeks) of rehearsal of your bumblebee routine. You’ve forced your family to “Look! Watch!” the under two-minute choreography you’d perform with friends and they know it better than you do! It’s supposed to be a moment that you’re gushed over and it makes your Mom smile. And your Dad. And your Brothers. And the other Moms cuz you’re the cutest dancer baby there.
I mean, my first big performance was that (except the cutest dancer baby part). The ending was good but the beginning? EVEN BETTER!
I was three years old. And a ballerina with a penchant for turning the wrong way and dancing enthusiastically with the wrong choreography. My limbs would do what they wanted to do during lessons so watching me provided endless entertainment. The ONLY thing I had to do that night was to turn the right way.
Seriously, that was all my teacher asked of me because I’d giggle uncontrollably if I didn’t.
So the big day arrives and my Mom drove me to the theater. I hopped out the car (without hitting a nae-nae) and started to fidget. I remember seeing a girl in my dance class pass by and I wanted to run into the building with her. My Mom said no to that. So we walked into the building like “we had good sense” and I ran into the area where we changed clothes. Another dance mom walked over to my Mom and handed her a pair of tights. I heard my Mom ask, “What are these?” and I knew from her tone that she was not pleased.
Perplexed and almost pissed.
Because I was as in tune with my Mom as the waves are with the phases of the moon, I stood to the side to watch what was sure to be a show. AND I WAS NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT DISAPPOINTED!
In a very weird way, the other mom said, “These are flesh colored tights.” Weird because at three I didn’t know what condescension was.
I looked to my Mom with an expression that said, “Don’t let me down!” and she didn’t. She did NOT.
My Mom told her that of course those were flesh toned tights. And followed with, “I’m confused as to whose flesh they are supposed to go on?” She did this without the Angry Black Woman neck roll. The woman, seeing what the issue finally was, replied to my Mom that everyone had to look the same. So she kindly (her word) picked up an extra pair “in case she needed one.”
And my Mom, being the troublemaker that she is, loudly said, “WHY WOULD MY BLACK DAUGHTER NEED PALE PINK DANCE TIGHTS? They aren’t exactly flesh toned.”
In my head, this was better than when my Mom had to explain why someone had to give me Black Barbies as a gift. The woman got so upset that she wanted my Mom removed from the area (Present Day Me would have responded with “look at this white ass privilege”). Instead, little me laughed almost maniacally that an adult was mad I wasn’t going to wear the wrong tights. Her request was met with laughter (rude from the belly laughter) from my dance teacher. After the woman asked what was so funny, my teacher (who is also white) explained that she’d have to get over it.
“You’re mad because she pointed out her daughter is black. She’s black.” At that, the woman stormed out of the room.
We were on stage where I had the time of my three year old life even though I still turned the wrong way.